August 2007

Check it out! Meet up on Sept. 22 to talk about how the web could change lives around the world in the future. From One Web Day:

The essence of OneWebDay is to create a global constituency that thinks of itself as responsible for the future of the internet, so that when negative things happen (censorship, restricted access, heavy-handed law enforcement control) people will act.

How can you participate? Sponsor a teaching event (how to create/edit a wiki, putting photos online, creating a podcast, etc.), host a conference or panel to discuss the future of the web, host a live chat…what other ideas can we come up with? Take a video of your event, post it to YouTube and tag it with onewebday2007. I can’t wait to see what we all come up with! Here are some examples from Flickr


The “C” word looms larger every year as the pace of change seems to increase relentlessly. Talk abounds of new technologies in libraries and the competencies necessary to implement them. Sarah Houghton-Jan recommends holding a class on coping with change as part of technology training. A recent discussion on the CLENE list revealed that many library organizations understand the need to address a fundamental acceptance of change before real advancement can be made in training. Infopeople shares its materials from two workshops on change—Effective Change Management and Living With Change.

In compiling the WebJunction Competencies, I added sections for “staying on top” in which I defined competencies for understanding the “resources and strategies for keeping up with new technologies.” I would like to augment that with a definition of competencies for CHANGE:

  • Be Curious. Maintain an openness to new ideas and, at the very least, find out more about them—how they work and how they might enhance library service.
  • Put your Heart into your work. If you seek to provide the best service to your patrons, the need to change will follow more naturally.
  • Take Action. If you are proactive in looking for new directions and possibilities, you’re less likely to feel steamrollered by change.
  • Nix the negativity. The “no, it won’t work” response to innovations won’t help you, your library, or your patrons.
  • Set realistic Goals for yourself. Accept that you won’t meet all standards all the time. Define for yourself (or with your supervisor) what skills and knowledge you need to do your best at your job.
  • Exchange knowledge freely. Help your colleagues to understand new systems and technologies. Avoid the all-too-prevalent tendency to play one-upmanship with techno knowledge.

Change is here to stay, so we might as well learn to love it.

Charlotte-Mecklenberg’s Learning 2.0 and Learning 2.1 programs are being copied in libraries from California to Australia. As staff development budgets compete with other library priorities, will self-directed learning (SDL) take center stage as a low-cost, effective strategy for keeping library staff current with emerging technologies? If so, how can “learning experts,” i.e., those responsible for continuing education, training and staff development, help make SDL successful? 

Based on my experiences as staff development manager and designer of self-paced training, I think that learning experts can:

  • Be knowledgeable about different types of self-directed learning. SDL can include online efforts like Learning 2.0, training kits that can be checked out for new employees to learn the library’s ILS, intranet tutorials for just-in-time training, and library literature “clipping services” for trends and current awareness. (Look at Daniel Tobin’s chart of the categories of self-directed and independent learning in his book, All Learning Is Self-Directed.)
  • Consider using established competencies as the basis for learning activities.
  • Review existing staff development policies and procedures. Are time, space and equipment for SDL provided at work? Is completion of SDL activities tracked in your training database or summarized in your training reports?
  • Develop the coaching capacity of your library’s supervisors. Winning MP3 players is nice, but the real rewards should be supervisor recognition and reinforcement. Do your supervisors routinely write learning plans with their employees? (Yale University Library has an excellent guide to writing a learning plan.)
  • Become a consultant and “outsourcing expert” for individual employees. Help them to assess their learning styles and preferences and to identify learning opportunities, both inside and outside the library.
  • Create a Learning Guide that maps specific competencies to training and learning programs.
  • Sell your library’s managers on the importance of a positive learning environment, where individual and team learning is linked to organizational success. Library managers can be role models, sharing their own strategies for self-directed learning.
  • Teach your subject matter experts (SMEs) to share their knowledge and skills as broadly as possible.

As CE, training and staff development coordinators, we must shift our focus from training to learning facilitation. Successful SDL builds even more self-confidence for individual learners. Our most important role as learning experts is to develop staff who are experts on their own learning.

The universe may be constantly expanding, but our world continues to shrink with each passing technological innovation.  It’s hard to believe that many of us were born into the arms of the waning Industrial Age, set out on the road of adult life during the Age of Information, and then looked up one day to find that we’d taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque, and ended up somewhere in the middle of the Global Village!  With so much changing so fast in our profession, we must be more agile in everything, from keeping up with the latest trends in learning to communicating with teams across our organizations. 

Virtual teams allow us to have many hands working on the same project in different locations.  The benefits are incredible: increased perspective from diverse team members, shorter turnaround time for projects, and more flexibility in scheduling (which affects how we serve our customers).  For all the benefits, the performance of virtual teams is largely influenced by communication.  And communication, as we all know, can be facilitated or hampered by technology. 

Communicating within a virtual team isn’t difficult with the right tools in place, and you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars for the latest iteration of Sharepoint to be effective.  There are several free tools available to get your virtual team moving at full speed.  Try Mind 42, a dynamic, free, web-based tool for collaborative brainstorming.  Manage your team’s projects with BackPack.  For collaborative writing, check out Writeboard, which keeps a version history of documents and it integrates with BackPack.  There are several other tools like Basecamp and ZohoPlanner that virtual teams can also leverage.       

Take advantage of these free tools and begin to explore the virtues of virtual teams.